Paul Ellis apparently thought that he was doing nothing wrong when he opened a medical marijuana dispensary in Spokane last December. He located the operation, called Med Mar Dis, right across the street from a state patrol office and asked the sergeant who worked there whether Ellis could use law enforcement labs to test his pot for contaminants. But Spokane County Sheriff detectives didn't see things quite the same way.
Reached at his dispensary this morning, Ellis doesn't say why he planted his operation right across from the cops. He must have known that the state's medical marijuana law, by most people's interpretation, prohibits dispensaries. County Deputy Prosecutor John Grasso has very publicly said the same.
Yet Ellis was apparently proud of his operation. According to a search warrant filed by detectives and quoted by The Spokesman-Review, when detectives first stopped by his dispensary in August, Ellis "told us in great detail how he just wanted to help people and other dispensaries in towns were crooks." He then invited the detectives home to see the pot he grew there.
While he declines to say much now before meeting with his attorney, Ellis tells SW that he himself is a medical marijuana patient and that he had been "poisoned" by pot he got at another dispensary. He says he didn't think the other dispensary knowingly gave him bad dope, but the incident prompted him to open his own place.
Thus the raid could be an interesting case study in the coming legislative debate on whether to legalize and regulate medical marijuana dispensaries. Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles (D-Seattle) has drafted a bill that would do just that, and she has argued that legalizing dispensaries are the only way to make sure that patients are getting safe medication. Provided Ellis is not in jail, Kohl-Welles might want to enlist him to help her prove her point.